Celebrating #AccessDay 2019 in London!

Celebrating #AccessDay 2019 in London!

Saturday 16th March 2019 was Disabled Access Day, a bi-annual event in the UK which celebrates accessibility. It’s a day when venues including museums, art galleries, historic buildings and tourist attractions host events for disabled people. Disabled Access Day is sponsored by Euan’s Guide, a disabled access review website and this year’s theme was You and Somewhere New, encouraging people to visit a venue them mightn’t have considered visiting before. This year there was a criteria that the venues either had, were working towards having or be near a Changing Places toilet, as without these facilities some disabled people are very limited in where they can go out to.

I’m very proud to be Euan’s Guide’s London Ambassador, so I spent the day visiting some of the amazing venues taking part in London; St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Wellcome Collection and the Barbican Centre.

St Paul’s Cathedral

Photo of the interior of Saint Pauls Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is a world famous tourist attraction, a beautiful building with a fascinating history and given its age is remarkably accessible. I have a mobility disability, but by lift it was easy for me to access the main cathedral floor and the crypt. I was very excited to discover that building work will begin later in 2019 to create a new permanent accessible, step free entrance on the north side of the Cathedral, which will consist of two ramps.

St Paul’s was my first venue of the day, and I received a very warm welcome. There were lots of accessible events throughout the day. I was given a wonderful guided tour by Ann, who was extremely knowledgeable about the Cathedral’s history and architecture and presented it in a very engaging way with lots of anecdotal stories and fun facts and pointed out things I might otherwise not have noticed. For part of the tour we entered the roped off quire and sat in the quire stalls and I felt like a V.I.P. As part of the tour we also visited the Crypt, which is very atmospheric and fascinating to explore. From visiting it was evident that St Paul’s is committed to providing good access, by providing multimedia guides that have British Sign Language, subtitles and audio described, having an induction loop, offering touch tours for visually impaired people, proving relaxed atmosphere sessions for autistic people and recently upgrading their accessible toilets. This is a place well worth visiting and check out my Euan’s Guide review if you want know more.

Westminster Abbey

My second visit of the day was to Westminster Abbey, most famously associated with coronations and royal weddings. This is another world famous heritage site which has great disabled access.  The main entrance through the North Door is step free with a small permanent ramp. Recently the Abbey installed a lift to improve access to their upper galleries, and I’ve been invited back to visit this. There are audio guides and pre-recorded descriptive tours for people with a visual impairment.

Saturday 16th March 2019 was Disabled Access Day, a bi-annual event in the UK which celebrates accessibility. It’s a day when venues including museums, art galleries, historic buildings and tourist attractions host events for disabled people. Disabled Access Day is sponsored by Euan’s Guide, a disabled access review website and this year’s theme was You and Somewhere New, encouraging people to visit a venue them mightn’t have considered visiting before. This year there was a criteria that the venues either had, were working towards having or be near a Changing Places toilet, as without these facilities some disabled people are very limited in where they can go out to.

I’m very proud to be Euan’s Guide’s London Ambassador, so I spent the day visiting some of the amazing venues taking part in London; St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Wellcome Collection and the Barbican Centre.

Wellcome Collection

Photo of a man speaking to an audience at Wellcome Collection.

Next stop of the day was the Wellcome Collection, which focuses on health related issues with both temporary and permanent galleries as well as regular events. They live up to their name by being so engaging and accessible as the venue is entirely step free and offering regular accessible tours. They were Euan’s Guide Venue of the Year (2018), and as someone who attends their regular Access Review sessions, I’ve seen that their commitment to accessibility is one of their passions as they are always striving to be even more inclusive. On Disabled Access Day there was a choice of tours and workshops.

I joined their Global Clinic tour, round one of their fascinating galleries which focused on temporary structures which are suitable for delivering adaptable health care in emergency situations and to remote locations. The tour catered to the diversity of the disabled community, by including a touch tour, speech to text and BLS interpreter. It also drew out a lot of interesting details, which I may otherwise have missed, and discussion and questions were encouraged which made the tour very interactive and inclusive. The Wellcome is the perfect place if you’re curious and looking for something a little bit different and quirky you will love Wellcome, and if you want to find out more you can read my Euan’s Guide review.

Barbican Centre

People on a stage at the Barbican Centre.

My final stop was the Barbican Centre, an arts venue with, theatre, cinema and galleries. It’s one of the most accessible venues in central London, as it is one of the few to have a Changing Places toilet. The main entrance is on Silk Street and from there is step free. As part of the Barbican ongoing commitment to ensuring access, currently there are building works in process to upgrade the art gallery lift.

To celebrate Disabled Access Day the Barbican presented Tune into Access, a free all day event with performances by disabled musicians, showcasing music, disability and technology. I arrived for the last five minutes of the final musical performance, before attending the panel discussion about how new technology uses creativity to challenge traditional views about what is music. This included a demonstration of a musical instrument which works by only using eye movement. The lively and engaging panel discussion was accompanied by speech to text and a BSL interpreter. Afterwards I was lucky to attend an evening reception and heard about the Barbican staff’s commitment to inclusivity and their plans to include disabled performers in future events. If you would like to know more about the Barbican Centre read my Euan’s Guide review.

I would like to say a huge thank you to each of the venues I visited, for their welcome and making Disabled Access Day so special, and most importantly their on-going commitment to improving access and inclusivity with and for disabled people.